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Anchor Bay presents
"Why did I think this year would be any different?"
DVD ReviewSleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland doesn't have any of the rampant, dark humor found in Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, nor does it have any of the staggering plot revelations as the original did; this doesn't leave much room for it to become anything but another mediocre teenage hack-em-up. Shot immediately after Part II wrapped, it's difficult to understand how the two films could be so diametrically different, especially when one considers that both feature the same director, writer and charismatic star.
Set a year after the events of the second film, Pam Springsteen is back once again as the unhinged Angela, and in the film's opening sequence she assumes the identity of a camper heading to Camp New Horizons. As we soon learn, Camp New Horizons is the renamed Camp Rolling Hills from Part II where Angela committed her last heap of ghastly murders, and it has now been designed to be "an experience in sharing" by mixing rich and poor kids together. The camp is run by Michael J. Pollard as Herman, and his oddball presence is unfortunately too short-lived—he is dispatched right after a romp with a large-breasted camper (uber-babe Randi Layne). Part II had characters named after Brat Packers, and this installment liberally borrows the first names from West Side Story as its running inside joke.
Simpson doesn't waste much time in unleashing Angela's fury, but the way it's presented here just doesn't have the same impact as Part II, where Springsteen played the lead character with a bubbly effervescence that was a wonderful contradiction to the brutal murders she committed. Springsteen is unfortunately forced to play a low-key Angela (in a hideous wig, too) for three-quarters of the film, and it's not until the final fifteen or twenty minutes that she is really back to the old perky psycho that we all know and love. She even resurrects The Happy Camper song briefly, but it's just not as ironically quirky.
The plot of this one is just an excuse for wanton murder, without any natural advancement of Angela's storyline, and the ending is a silly open door for the anticipated, but never made Sleepaway Camp IV. The appearance of Barney the counselor (Cliff Brand), the policeman father of a boy Angela murdered in the last one never develops into a satisfying confrontation any more substantial than any of her other murders in the film.
The method of death, the little thing that makes these mindless films memorable, are interesting (lawnmower, firecrackers), but it is the tongue-in-cheek humor that is needed, and is noticeably absent. The murders themselves are largely goreless, a move Simpson undertook to get his film an R-rating. This release by Anchor Bay does not reinstate the excised footage, though it is provided as one of the special features.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C
Image Transfer Review: Sleepaway Camp III has been released with a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As they have been known to do on similar B-films, Anchor Bay has supplied an impressive looking disc here, one that is remarkably clean and blemish-free. Colors are brighter and a bit more vibrant than they were on Sleepaway Camp II, and though the story sadly lacks, the print looks excellent.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: Like its predecessor, this disc contains a fine mono track that is clean, crisp and clear at all times, free of distortion, hiss or crackle.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Michael A. Simpson, Fritz Gordon, John Klyza
Director Michael A. Simpson, writer Fritz Gordon and www.sleepawaycampfilms.com'er John Klyza team up as they did on Part II to provide a full-length, scene-specific commentary for the film. Simpson and Fritz are a little more free-flowing with information this time around, and Klyza doesn't have to constantly prompt them, though he does a fine job as moderator. His often astonishing knowledge and analysis of the film seems deeper than that of Gordon and Simpson, and Klyza is able to keep things on track.
The Behind The Scenes Footage and Outtakes (08m:28s) featurette centers on the film's opening garbage truck attack scene, with Simpson providing narration over largely silent footage. This is one of Sleepaway Camp III's big money shots, and it offers a concise look at the execution.
Deleted Scenes From Director's Cut Featuring Additional Gore Footage (18m:45s) collects all of the key death scenes, and includes the footage that Simpson had to cut to get an R-rating. In hindsight, the so-called excess seems minor in comparison, and you'll probably be scratching your head trying to figure out why the scenes had to be edited in the first place. The footage is presented full-frame, without music or additional sound effects.
Anchor Bay has included a fairly easy to find easter egg, which is a 03m:19s report from a 1988 local Georgia newscast about the filming of Sleepaway Camp III. The piece features interviews with some of the cast, as well as Simpson, and includes some new behind-the-scenes footage, such as Kim Wall recording her death scene scream.
In addition to a theatrical trailer and twenty-three chapters, the disc concludes with a jam-packed Stills Gallery, chock full of dozens of images, broken down into three categories: Behind-The-Scenes Artwork, Garbage Truck Scene, and Makeup and Gore Effects.
Extras Grade: B+
Final CommentsFilmed literally on the heels of the wildly entertaining Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, this tired sequel of a sequel lacks the sharp humor of the second film, and turns it's star into a simple killing automaton. Though it does offer some interesting murders, courtesy of Pam Springsteen's whacked-out Angela, the whole thing just seems like eighty minutes of filler with no expansion or story development.
Though Anchor Bay has included a nice set of extras, this one is recommended as a purchase for completists only.
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